I treasure my regular early morning breakfasts with my daughter, Maddie. Early morning breakfast has become our routine since we share a love of the early morning, hot beverages and any kind of morning cake. On our breakfast mornings, we are usually the first customers to enter our neighborhood Starbucks.
Over the years, I have changed how I view my breakfasts with Maddie. They started as a way to make up for the inequity in one-on-one time that I had with my son compared to her. I spent hours coaching my son’s sports teams and playing ball with him. Maddie has never a great interest in sports, so breakfast has been a way for me to give her time. Over the years, the breakfast has morphed from giving Maddie one-on-one time into a cherished ritual.
While the conversations are always fun and interesting, it’s the entire pre-dawn ritual that has brought me closer to my daughter. I wake her up and we tiptoe down the stairs. Turning off the alarm and leaving the house without waking up my wife or son.
As we walk to our destination, we imagine that we are the first two people awake in the city. Soaking in the peace and tranquility, only present just before dawn, we ease our way down the tree-lined street with a clear destination, but no sense of urgency. The quiet is striking. I can actually hear myself think, rare in a large city with so much energy.
Our conversations revolve around a wide variety of topics, such as school, friends, current events and the future, to name a few. The discussions are always lively, as they occasionally feel more like a debate. Regardless, I have always been impressed with her openness to share whatever she is thinking. There is no question that she wouldn’t answer until last year, soon after turning 12.
Thinking back, I remember asking her a question. At this point, I don’t even remember what it was, other than it had something to do with some of her friends, one of which was a boy. However, her response is forever tattooed to my brain.
“5 percent, dad! There is this 5 percent”, Maddie exclaimed. “There is this 5 percent of things that I just don’t want to talk to my dad about.”
As the words hung over my head like a caption in a cartoon, I digested them ever so slowly. At first, I was taken back, however I realized quickly that her desire for some privacy was important to her personal growth and development. As I pondered, I became quiet, a rarity in our conversations. Maddie knew exactly how to handle the situation.
“Dad, there is still 95% for us to talk about”, exclaimed Maddie.
My wife has told me that the percentages of what she doesn’t want to share will bigger for a number of years, then smaller. Regardless of what percentage, I’ll cherish the part of the morning when Maddie and I are the only people awake in the city.